Ingredient Hacks [Simple Substitution Ideas]

posted in: DIY | 0

Most of the time, substituting certain ingredients in recipes is a fairly simple process which shouldn’t affect the end results. Today, I wanted to share my favorite ingredient hacks.

For instance, I don’t usually buy buttermilk because after using the recommended amount in a recipe, the rest generally goes to waste.

Moreover, on a pretty regular basis, I select recipes for which I am missing an ingredient. I live about 22 miles from the nearest grocery store and no one wants to drive 22 miles for one ingredient.  I most certainly don’t. If substituting with one of my ingredient hacks is not possible then I will find another recipe and grab what I need when I go into town.

On a side note, I have only driven into town for a single item when I was pregnant and craving ice cream. However, while I left desiring only one item, ice cream. I came home with three bags filled with multiple ice cream flavors, toppings, and whipped cream.

Sundae party anyone?

Although it may appear as if I have been pregnant most of my adult life, I have only gone on one such a trip and the subsequent shopping spree one time. Spending the GNP of a tiny country in gas for one item isn’t something I want to do…nor do I want to spend one hour on the road.

As a consequence of my stubbornness, frugality, common sense, and location, for me, substituting ingredients has become an art form.


Ingredient Hacks


Ingredient Hacks Covered

In this post, I will be including ingredient hacks for:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Egg white
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Yogurt
  • Baking powder
  • Evaporated milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • And more



Simple Ingredients Hacks

Gluten-Free Flour for Wheat Flour

Replace 1:1 with a gluten-free flour mix.



For one large egg:
Note: Replacing more than one egg in some recipes can affect the integrity of your final product.
  • Flax egg ~ 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water. Let stand for about 10 minutes before using.

Note: I recommend grinding your own flax seeds. Once they are ground, flax seeds turn rancid fairly quickly.  A coffee grinder works marvelously for this process.

  • Chia seed egg ~ follows the same recipes as for flax seeds.
  • Store bought egg replacer – follow packaging directions.
  • Applesauce ~ 1/4 cup of natural unsweetened applesauce. Don’t forget to add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the recipe.
  • Fruit puree other than apple ~ especially prunes ~ same as for applesauce.
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, or arrowroot powder, or potato starch would work as well


Egg White

  • 1 tablespoon of agar powder with 1 tablespoon of water. Beat vigorously and let stand in the fridge for 15 minutes. Before using beat again.



For 1 cup of cow’s milk replace with 1 cup of:

  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Water
  • Juice
  • Goat milk

Note:  I personally avoid soy milk.



Replace 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup) with:

  • Earth balance soy free ~ this is a dairy-free butter substitute
  • Non-hydrogenated organic shortening
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil ~ extra virgin or expeller pressed (use the latter if you do not care for the coconut flavor of extra virgin coconut oil)
  • For a reduced fat option: 6 tablespoons of applesauce (or fruit puree) with 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil



Replace 1 cup of buttermilk with:

  • 1 cup of milk or milk replacer (see above) with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.



Replace 1 cup of yogurt with:

  • 1 cup coconut yogurt
  • 1 cup goat milk yogurt
  • 1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce or another fruit puree
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup kefir


Baking Powder


Evaporated Milk ~ for one cup

  • 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup cream or half and half OR
  • 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk with 3/4 cup water OR
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk reduced to 1 cup of evaporated milk


Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.


Apple Juice Concentrate in Place of Sugar

  • 1 cup of sugar equals 3/4 cup apple juice concentrate minus 3 tablespoons of the liquid in your original recipe.

Note: You may also use pear or grape concentrate as well.


Self Rising Flour

Regular Recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I prefer unbleached)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Gluten-Free Recipe:

Mix until well combined. This equals 1 cup of self-rising gluten-free flour.


Cake Flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch PLUS
  • Enough flour to make a cup (for a gluten-free option, you may use a gluten-free flour mix)

Place 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1 cup measuring cup and put enough flour to top off the measuring cup. This is equal to 1 cup of cake flour. Another formula is 1/4 cup of cornstarch to 1 3/4 cups of flour = 2 cups of cake flour.


White Vinegar



If you have your own favorite ingredient hacks, I would love for you to share them below in the comment section.




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